I interrupt this consumer education to bring you a rant, occasioned by a recent special election for state representative here in southeastern Massachusetts. The newly elected representative is Keiko Orrall. A Republican living in the town of Lakeville, she introduces herself as a home-schooling mother and member of the her town’s Finance Committee. Prominent in her campaign platform was requiring drug tests for recipients of “public assistance.”
So I can hardly wait to see her plan in action.
The biggest recipients of government assistance are the towns and cities of the Commonwealth. And some municipal officials have committed such flagrant mismanagement, you might think they’re on drugs. So I guess we should start by making all the mayors, selectmen, and town Finance Committee members pee in a cup in order to get their cherry sheet money.
Another big chunk of government assistance goes to Medicaid, specifically, the old and frail. Many of them used to live in big houses in leafy suburbs. But they had good estate-planning lawyers, so now their kids live in the houses while the parents live out their final days on government assistance. It sure would be easy enough to drug-test them, right there in the nursing home.
And what about all the state college and university students? Even the ones who don’t actually get scholarships receive government assistance in the form of our public support for their schools. By making all of them pee in a cup, we could confirm what we already know: a lot of college students drink too much beer and smoke too much weed, but most of them graduate just the same.
Oh, wait. Ms. Orrall isn’t talking about those kinds of government assistance. She’s talking about the $600 a month granted to unemployed single mothers to raise their kids. It’s not enough that we limit their TAFDC to two years, keep them from improving themselves by going to school, electronically track where they spend their money, and prosecute them for fraud if they try to raise themselves up to the poverty level by working under the table. That’s not enough insult to the dignity of those women. After all, they didn’t have the good sense to stay married to men who could support them. No, we have to make them pee in a cup in order to keep a roof over their kids’ heads.
What a great payday for the pharmaceutical companies who make the tests and read the tests. They could afford to give back a lot of campaign contributions to the Republicans with the profits they would make from that kind of law. At least, that’s the way it worked in Florida.
Here’s a better idea. As we know, drug abuse and addiction respect no boundaries of race or class. If protecting children from parents who suffer from addiction is the goal, the children at greatest risk are those who are not regularly seen by school teachers, counselors, and custodians, who can detect signs of abuse or neglect. So it stands to reason that if you want to home-school your kids, you should be first in line to pee in a cup.
We are the 99%, the saying goes, and for decades now the top 1% have stayed on top in large part by pitting the middle class against those further down the ladder. Isn’t it time to stop the open season on poor women and unite to provide a decent and dignified living for all?